L3Harris has teamed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to offer IAI’s Heron TP aircraft for Canada’s RPAS program. Team Artemis will adapt the Heron TP to meet specific and demanding Canadian requirements associated with very challenging geographic and environmental conditions.


In addition to meeting STANAG 4671 requirements, ARTEMIS is planned to be equipped with a Detect and Avoid System comprising a Due Regard Radar, IFF, ADS-B and TCAS. IAI is teamed with Honeywell to field this integrated capability by the end of 2018, meaning that the capability will be available and proven well before deliveries of RPAS to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) commence. This technology should be the last hurdle to allow UAS of this size access to non-segregated airspace in Canada. But in reality, it will be some time before the ultimate objective of “file and fly” anywhere in Canada is realized. In the meantime, close cooperation with Transport Canada and NAVCAN will make it possible for Artemis to operate where it must to secure the safety and sovereignty of Canada.


United States-built defence products for capabilities such as the RPAS program are ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations) controlled and come with limitations of use. Artemis will be offered to Canada as optionally ITAR-free, meaning the aircraft and GCS will be delivered to L3Harris ITAR-free. L3Harris will then install the mission system, tailored to Canada’s needs, which may include ITAR products. If Canada chooses instead to maintain an ITAR-free configuration, Canada will have full autonomy on the where-when-what use of Artemis without the need for approval from another government.


In the up-coming RPAS RFP, there will likely be some form of Five Eyes (FVEY) requirement. IAI intends to deliver the Heron-TP aircraft complete with its certified flight control systems intact but segregated by a security gateway from the mission system, this will allow L3Harris and its partners to integrate mission systems to meet the RCAF interoperability requirements. IAI has successfully applied this concept and met stringent requirements in other FVEY defence programs such as the US Army Hunter program and is also being proposed for the Royal Australian Air Force AIR 7003 program.


The Artemis UAS was designed and will be built and maintained to meet the airworthiness standards of NATO STANAG 4671. NATO countries have been working for several years to develop a complete regulatory framework to fly UAS in non-segregated airspace. While there are currently no specific civil airworthiness requirements for UAVs, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a Policy Statement on the subject that mirrors the requirements of STANAG 4671 for issuing a military type certificate for UAS over 150kg.

Although the Heron TP has been flying under an Israeli Air Force Flight Authorisation Certificate in Israel for at least 10 years, certification will soon be expanded to include other countries. The process has already begun by Airbus in Germany to perform a complete Heron TP Type Certification for the German Military Airworthiness Authority that should be completed around June 2020. A similar process is expected to soon begin in India but no details of this activity are publicly available.


With its powerful, Canadian-made, 1200 shaft horse power Pratt & Whitney Turbo-Prop PT6 engine, the Artemis UAS is capable of speeds, climb rates and altitudes that are unmatched in the MALE category. Equipped with an anti-icing system and capable of operating altitudes greater than 45,000 feet, it is ideal for northern operations. Moreover, the Artemis UAS does not need a Launch and Recovery Element (LRE). Artemis is capable of Automatic Taxi, Take Off, and Landing (ATTOL), which means that there is no requirement to preposition personnel at remote landing sites. This capability reduces the planning cycle for a contingency operation to a phone call to alert the fuel service.


The Heron TP is currently in service with the Israeli Air Force and was declared fully operational in 2010. Although actual numbers are classified, Heron TP has accumulated hundreds of thousands of operational hours with the Israeli Air Force and has accumulated significant combat experience. The Artemis UAS boasts more operational time than any UAS in its class. More information on the operational experience of the Heron TP will require a government-to-government discussion.


Once on station, the Artemis UAS will use a full suite of sensors and communications equipment in an overland and/or maritime configuration, to detect, track, and monitor objects of interest. The inherent flexibility of the Artemis airframe design and Mission Management System allows for a wide range of sensors and sensor types in the electro-magnetic and electro-optic ranges. This includes the world-leading L3Harris WESCAM MX-20 EO/IR. Artemis will also include provisions for an Automatic Identification System for ship tracking, state-of-the-art Multi-Mode Radar, RWR, ELINT and the full spectrum of SIGINT devices available for direction finding and interception of unfriendly communications. In addition, Artemis’ adaptable architecture will allow for the rapid integration of future sensors or upgrades to existing ones.